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Wuḍūʾ (Arabic: الوضوء al-wuḍūʼ [wʊˈdˤuːʔ]) is the Islamic procedure for cleansing parts of the body, a type of ritual purification, or ablution. The 4 Fardh (Mandatory) acts of Wudu are: washing the face, then the arms, then wiping the head, then washing or wiping the feet, and doing these in order, without any big breaks between them.[1][2]

Wudu is an important part of ritual purity in Islam. It is governed by fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence),[3] which specifies rules concerning hygiene and defines the rituals that constitute it.

It is typically performed before prayers (salah or salat). Activities that invalidate wudu include urination, defecation, flatulence, deep sleep, light bleeding (depending on madhhab), menstruation, postpartum and sexual intercourse.[4]

Wudu is often translated as 'partial ablution', as opposed to ghusl as 'full ablution' where the whole body is washed. It also contrasts with tayammum ('dry ablution'), which uses sand or dust in place of water, principally due to water scarcity or other harmful effects on the person.[5] Purification of the body and clothes is called taharah.

Basis of Wudu


Qur'an 2:222 says "For God loves those who turn to Him constantly and He loves those who keep themselves pure and clean."[2:222] The Islamic prophet Muhammad said that "Cleanliness is half of faith."[6]

Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence)

Wudu by itself is a mustahabb (recommendable act) in Islamic rites, but it becomes obligatory in special conditions such as daily prayers (salah) and tawaf and worship.[7]

Description in Hadith

Wudu in Hadith Abu Hurairah, in reference to the Day of Resurrection, reported that Muhammad, when asked if he would be able to recognize Muslims, said, "Yes, you would have a mark which other people will not have. You would come to me with a white blaze on your foreheads and white marks on your feet because of the traces of ablution."[8]

Abu Hurayra said, "I have heard prophet (may peace be upon him) say, "In a believer adornment would reach the places where ablution reaches."[9]

Uthman stated that Muhammad said, "He who performed ablution well, his sins would come out from his body, even coming out from under his nails."[10]

Umar reported that Muhammad said, "No one among you does wuḍūʾ and does wuḍūʾ thoroughly – or adequately – and then testifies, 'There is no god but Allah Alone with no partner and I testify that Muhammad is Allah's Messenger', without the eight doors of the Garden being opened to him so that he can enter by whichever of them he wishes."[11]

Performing wudu from large bodies of water

It is mentioned in numerous Hadiths by Ja'far al-Sadiq that it is permissible to make wudu with water that is not overwhelmed with the smell of dead animals. If there is a dead animal, it is recommended to take wudu from the opposite side of the location of the animal.[12] He also said it is permissible to take wudu from the ponds between Mecca and Medina in which people perform ghusl, dogs and beasts drink, and animals die so long as the water level is at least up to the knees.[12]

Performing wudu from a well

It has been narrated by Ali al-Ridha that if a drop of urine, blood or animal feces falls into a well, one must remove about ten buckets from it before performing wudu. If the feces has disintegrated into the water, forty to fifty buckets must be removed. Ja'far al-Sadiq has also mentioned that if an animal falls into the well, and has not disintegrated in it, remove five to seven buckets of water from it or until the smell or taste of the water changes. However, If the animal is bleeding or has an open wound, one must draw out thirty to forty buckets before it becomes purified for wudu. If a camel dies in the well or wine is poured into the well, all the water must be drained.[12]

Ritual requirements

Types of water


The water of Wudu must be mutlaq meaning pure or unmixed (not necessarily chemically pure). The name of a liquid that is normally regarded by individuals as water.[13]


There are other acts that are performed during wuḍūʾ and the detailed acts of the wuḍūʾ can be classed into 3 types:

Farā'id according to Sunni Muslims

According to Sunni Muslims, the Qur'anic mandate for wudu comes in the sixth ayah of sura 5. The ayah has been translated by Muhammad Muhsin Khan, Rashad Khalifa, Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Pickthall and Maulana Muhammad Ali as follows. Note that these scholars' translation refers to washing the feet, following the riwayah with "arjulakum" over "arjulikum". Nevertheless, the vast majority of Sunni scholars also accept wiping over covered feet, subject to certain conditions.

O you who have believed, when you rise to [perform] prayer, wash your faces and your forearms to the elbows and wipe over your heads and wash your feet to the ankles. And if you are in a state of Junub, then purify yourselves. But if you are ill or on a journey or one of you comes from the place of relieving himself or you have contacted women and do not find water, then seek clean earth and wipe over your faces and hands with it. Allah does not intend to make difficulty for you, but He intends to purify you and complete His favor upon you that you may be grateful.

— Al-Ma'ida, Sura 5, Ayah 6[14]

Referencing the above verse, the Sunni schools of thought have consensus that the following four actions are obligatory in wudu (Farā'id, aka Faraid, is the singular of fard and means "Obligatory ritual duties commanded by God. Generally refers to the five daily prayers, charity, fasting, and pilgrimage"),[15] i.e. necessary for wudu to be valid:

  1. Washing the face
  2. Washing both arms[dubious ] from the tips of the fingers up to and including the elbows
  3. Wiping the head. However, there is a difference of opinion on the sufficient portion.
  4. Washing both the feet up to and including the ankles.

The obligation of the following actions is debated among the fiqh schools of thought, though if not deemed obligatory they are considered recommended:

It is not sufficient for one to pass wet hand over the feet. Under certain conditions masah can be done over leather footgear known as khuffs.[16] This is confirmed in several

  1. Narrated by Abd-Allah ibn Amr: "...we were just passing wet hands over our feet (not washing them thoroughly) so he addressed us in a loud voice saying twice or 3x, 'Save your heels from the fire.'."[17]
  2. Narrated by 'Ubaid Ibn Juraij: "...and he used to perform ablution while wearing the shoes (i.e. wash his feet and then put on the shoes)."[18]
  3. Narrated by Yahya Al-Mazini: " 'Can you show me how Allah's Apostle used to perform ablution?' ...and washed his feet (up to the ankles)."[19]
  4. Narrated by 'Amr: "...and then he washed his feet up to the ankles."[20]
  5. Narrated by Humran: "...and washed his feet up to the ankles..."[21]
  6. Narrated by 'Amr bin Yahya: "...and washed his feet up to the ankles..."[22]
  7. Narrated by 'Abdullah bin Zaid: "...and washed his feet (up to the ankles)."[23]

Farā'id according to Shia Muslims

Plastic kettle Used In Tamale, Ghana and most African Countries
Ablution in the Jameh Mosque of Isfahan, Iran
Ablution in the Jameh Mosque of Isfahan, Iran
People washing before prayer at the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore, Pakistan
People washing before prayer at the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore, Pakistan
Muslims performing ablution prior to Salat or other prayers
Muslims performing ablution prior to Salat or other prayers

Shia Muslims also believe the Qur'anic mandate for wuḍūʾ comes in the sixth ayat of Al-Ma'ida, the 5th sura. The ayat has been translated by Muhammad Habib Shakir as follows. (Note this scholar's translation refers to wiping the feet.)[24]

O ye who believe! when ye prepare for prayer, wash your faces, and your hands (and arms) to the elbows; Rub your heads (with water); and your feet to the ankles. If ye are in a state of ceremonial impurity, bathe your whole body. But if ye are ill, or on a journey, or one of you cometh from offices of nature, or ye have been in contact with women, and ye find no water, then take for yourselves clean sand or earth, and rub therewith your faces and hands, Allah doth not wish to place you in a difficulty, but to make you clean, and to complete His favour to you, that ye may be grateful.

— Al-Ma'ida, Sura 5, Ayah 6[14]

Mustahabbāt (recommended acts)

A handful of mustahabb (recommended and meritorious but not required) acts that are considered to make the wuḍūʾ better. If one of these acts is omitted, the wuḍūʾ is still considered valid.


Stone of Tayammum
Stone of Tayammum

Muslims who are unable to perform the prevailing form of ablution, due to skin disease, a disability or lack of clean water, etc. are recommended to perform tayammum, sometimes called 'dry ablution', using sand or dust instead of water.[5] Such an alternative form of ritual purity may also be accepted in cases where one fears hypothermia in cold weather.[25]

Tayammum is also to be performed when one is defiled (on janabah) and could not perform ghusl, and is authorised under specific circumstances.[26]


Wudu in Sunnism

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Sunni Muslims perform the following:[27]

“Ašhadu ʾan lā ʾilāha ʾilla -llāhu, wa-ʾašhadu ʾanna muḥammadan rasūlu -llāh.” Then one may recite this Dua: “Allahummaz aal-ni minttwwabi-n waz-aal-ni minal mu-ta-tahhirin”[28]


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Wudu tap at Macau Mosque, Macau, China
Wudu tap at Macau Mosque, Macau, China

Theoretically, one can perform one wuḍūʾ for salat and this wudu would be considered valid for the rest of the day, unless you nullify it by certain means. Muslims believe that certain acts invalidate the wudu (often referred to as 'breaking wudu' and 'losing wudu'), although the Qur'an does not explain most of these, and rules differ among schools. According to Hidden Pearls website,

During the research and production of this video & blog post, we came across so many conflicting opinions on what breaks wudu and what doesn’t. Different schools of thought vary widely on this issue unfortunately. Especially in the cases of ruling on general bleeding & vomiting, we were even surprised that there seems to be no correct answer.[29]

According to Sunni Muslims

According to Sunni Islam, the following invalidate wudu:[28]

According to Shia Muslims

According to Shia theology, the following invalidate wudu:

Belching and vomiting do not invalidate wudhu, however it is strongly recommended that the individual rinses his or her mouth following the latter. Bleeding is not considered to invalidate wudhu either, as Ja'far al-Sadiq made it clear in Hadith that a bad wound is not cause to repeat wudhu. This concept further extends to parasites that may exit the body through the two extremities.[12] Cutting one's hair or nails does not invalidate wudhu but he or she should wipe the area with water.[12]

See also


  1. ^ Qur'an 5:6
  2. ^[bare URL]
  3. ^ Glasse, Cyril (2001). The New Encyclopeida of Islam. Altmira Press. p. 477.
  4. ^ Dikmen, Mehmet (3 May 2011). "What are the things that invalidate and break wudu?". Questions on Islam. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  5. ^ a b Zeno, Jamil (1996). The Pillars of Islam & Iman. p. 78.
  6. ^ Sahih Muslim, 2:432
  7. ^ a b Al-Hurr al-Amili, Muhammad (2003). Combat with the Self. Saqi Books (November 8, 2003). ISBN 978-1904063148.
  8. ^ Sahih Muslim, 2:480
  9. ^ Sahih Muslim, 2:484
  10. ^ Sahih Muslim, 2:476
  11. ^ "Riyad as-Salihin (The Meadows of the Righteous) by Imam Nawawi". Retrieved 2013-02-07.
  12. ^ a b c d e f al-Kulayni, Muhammad ibn Ya‘qub (2015). Al-Kafi (Volume 3 ed.). NY: Islamic Seminary Incorporated. p. 132. ISBN 9780991430864.
  13. ^ a b Rizvi, Sayyd Muhammad (11 September 2014). The Ritual and Spiritual Purity. Independently published (January 15, 2020). ISBN 978-1661488314.
  14. ^ a b Quran 5:6
  15. ^ Oxford Islamic Studies Online
  16. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:4:182
  17. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:4:164
  18. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:4:167
  19. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:4:185
  20. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:4:186
  21. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:4:161
  22. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:4:190
  23. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:4:196
  24. ^ Bhimji, Saleem (15 March 2016). "Method and Rulings of Wudhu". A division of the Islamic Publishing House.
  25. ^ Urumbuzhi, Muhyadheen (2010). Soul of the Quran-Volume 1. p. 487.
  26. ^ "Tayammum". Retrieved 2013-02-07.
  27. ^ "Wudu: how to make wudu in 4 steps (pictures)." Muslim Google.
  28. ^ a b c[dead link]
  29. ^ "Islam For Reverts: Things That Invalidate Your Wudu (Ablution) & Things That Don't". Hidden Pearls. ((cite web)): Missing or empty |url= (help)
  30. ^ Mohammed Kazem Yazdi. Al-Urwah al-Wuthqa. Vol. 1. pp. 330–331.
  31. ^ Fallahzadeh, Mohammad Hossein (2005). A Guide to Religious Laws. Ansariyan Publications (January 1, 2005). p. 51. ISBN 978-9644386572.